NOTE: The following article is off-topic. That is, it has nothing to do with family history, DNA, or any other genealogy-related topic. If you are looking for genealogy articles, you might want to skip this one.
Instead, this article is about some of my favorite topics: the latest software and hardware along with saving money and the use of computer hardware and software. If you are interested in these topics, you may find this article to be of some interest.
However, if you are already using Windows 10 or a Macintosh or a Chromebook or Linux, you probably will not find anything of interest in the following article.
According to many articles on the Web, including one written by Danny Palmer and published in the ZDNet web site:
“Windows 7 has reached end of life and now isn’t supported by Microsoft. It means businesses and consumers with PCs running on Windows 7 – which was introduced in 2009 – will no longer receive technical assistance, software patches and security updates from Microsoft, unless they want to pay extra.”
Later in the same article, Palmer writes:
“Such is the potential risk posed by this that the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre – the cyber arm of the GCHQ intelligence service – has issued a warning over the continued use of Windows 7 PCs and laptops, telling users they shouldn’t use Windows 7 devices when accessing personal data.”
You can find dozens of other articles about the Windows 7 end-of-life problem by starting at: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=%22windows+7%22+%22end+of+life.
What should the Windows 7 users do to protect themselves from viruses, identity theft, credit card theft, and similar problems? Actually, there are several very good answers.
Microsoft’s preferred solution is to encourage all Windows 7 users to upgrade to Windows 10. That isn’t a perfect solution, as Windows 10 also has had a few security problems but not nearly as many as Windows 7 has encountered. Unfortunately, upgrading to Windows 10 can be an expensive solution. First is the expense of obtaining the Windows 10 software, although SOME Windows 7 users can obtain a free upgrade. (See https://zd.net/35VpAfs for the details.) Next, Windows 10 is more demanding of the hardware than are the earlier versions of Windows. If your PC is a bit underpowered, you may need to also upgrade the hardware. That might mean adding more memory or other hardware to your computer. In many cases, the most cost-effective option is to purchase a brand-new state-of-the -art PC with Windows 10 pre-installed. I’ll let you determine the cost to do that.
Convert the PC to Linux. Many Linux versions (or “distributions”) are available. In most cases, Linux is available FREE of charge and is LESS demanding of the hardware than is Windows. Your present Windows 7 computer probably will work well once you install Linux, even faster than it did when running Windows 7.
Best of all, Any Windows computer can become “dual boot.” That us, both Windows 7 and Linux can be installed on the one hard drive. When first booting the computer, the user will then be promoted for an option: “Do you want to run Windows or run Linux?” This allows the user to keep the old Windows system but also to have Linux available whenever needed.
The primary downside of converting to Linux is there is a learning curve. Lots of buzzwords will change, menus will look different, and it will require some time to become familiar with the new operating system.
NOTE: If you have never seen Linux before, you might want to first read 5 of the Best Linux Distros for Windows Users at http://bit.ly/2TnYCL5 before deciding which distribution to use.
(And this is my preferred solution:) You could convert your present Windows system to run the Chromium operating system. If you use your Windows 7 PC mostly to access the web or the cloud, you can move it to CloudReady, the Chromium OS-based operating system. CloudReady is almost identical to the operating system installed in Chromebooks, with the exception that CloudReady is designed to run on any PC that also can run Windows while Chromebooks have an operating system that only works on Chromebook hardware (including Chromebox and ChromeBit systems).
I have written often about the advantages of Chromebooks and similar Chrome devices. See https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aeogn.com+chromebox for my past articles.
The Chrome systems never get viruses, are very easy to use (almost no learning curve), have thousands of FREE “apps” available and the operating system is available free of charge.
NOTE: Paid version of CloudReady are available but are designed for organizations that want to have Customer Support from the CloudReady software developers to help with any technical issues. If you plan to install CloudReady on dozens of computers at your business, church, school, or other non-profit organization, you will need to pay for a license. See https://www.neverware.com/pricing for pricing information. Almost all individual users will want to use the free Home Version of CloudReady.
In short, upgrading from Windows 7 to the CloudReady operating system is the simplest, cheapest, and easiest change if you mostly use your old computer to surf the web, read and write email, use Facebook and other social media sites, access news, weather, and sports and also to access the major genealogy web sites: (MyHeritage.com, FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com, Findmypast.com, WikiTree.com, TheGenealogist.co.uk, BillionGraves.com, FindAGrave.com, and many others).
I doubt if CloudReady or Chromebooks are the perfect solution for everyone but I would suggest that anyone running Windows 7 today should investigate the idea of switching to a faster, more powerful, more secure, and easier to use FREE operating system: CloudReady.
If you are interested in the possibility of using CloudReady, read How to switch from Windows 7 to Chrome OS CloudReady by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols (one of my favorite technology authors) as published in the ZDNdet Web site at: https://zd.net/2RgvToH.
You also will want to watch the video available at the same web page: https://zd.net/2RgvToH.